Suzanne Swint Engineering Solutions

Better projects. Less stress.

What Does Success Look Like?

When you begin a project do you ask yourself, “What does success look like?”

As EPC professionals, we are challenged to balance the budget and the schedule, while maintaining a certain level of quality. We track expenditure vs. output and graph our progress with curves resembling bananas (projected vs. actual), but, do these quantitative metrics lead us to successful project execution?

According IPA, 40% of all capital projects fail to meet their benchmark criteria for success. That means that 60% of the time, we are not doing the right things. Is it because we don’t know where we are going or that we don’t know how to get there?

Maybe, our client’s concept of success has changed, but, how will we know unless we ask the question?

What do you think?

We Trained Ourselves, Sir

It’s no secret that the slashing of training programs in EPC dismays me, especially for new grads and folks like me, who just love to grow.

For training and development, as with almost everything these days, we can’t count on our leaders or institutions to look out for us. Cost reduction and Austerity programs have cut to the bone. This is a sad fact in the post economic-crisis of 2007-2010 world.

The good news is that our hands are not tied! Of course, we can find a myriad of information of varying quality online for free, but we can also find many high- quality structured programs that, in my opinion, beat most corporate sponsored or in-house training at a fraction of the cost.

My favorite place to go for learning is Coursera, which is one of several good MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platforms. Coursera has many programs that are relevant to EPC professionals who are interested in developing themselves.  The courses are offered by some of the best institutions in the world and you receive a certificate upon successful completion that you can show off to your manager or recruiter.

What is your experience with MOOCs?

When Tactics Become Strategy

In EPC firms, profit is made on the margin between the charged rate and the paid rate. Overhead and idle time are dirty words. When tough times come and a tightening of the belt is necessary, the first to go is training and career development, along with salary freezes and delayed promotions. 

These short-term tactics can produce satisfactory short-term solutions, but what happens when the crunch is prolonged? 

Does lack of reinvestment contribute to long-term deterioration of project quality? Quantitatively speaking, this is hard to measure or to prove, even though there is some evidence that investing in “human capital,” leads to increased productivity and innovation.

What do you think?